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Covid Diary: Hands, 2020

mixed media on paper

 

Hands are reminders of the constructed world and the laborers responsible for bringing it into being. We use hands as a form of communication to shape and express our inner states. They have limitless narrative potential. They give us away, revealing what we would prefer to keep to ourselves. Hands teach us to feel and to reason, to count and to indicate. Hands give us agency, as creators but also as destroyers. They give symbolic form to our willingness to act in the world. Hands can suggest both power and exchange--the raised fist and the clasp.

 

In the early days of the pandemic, as the world shrank around my sheltered isolation, connection evoked contagion. Points of contact with the world, my breath and my touch, were points of vulnerability. To move about in the world and to act within it was to become exposed.

 

On our winter academic break in New Mexico, I watched the approaching storm and responded with my hands. Two days after returning to campus in Ann Arbor, we went into lockdown.

 

March 1-7, 2020, Taos